I sometimes refer to my life 3 years ago as my “old life.” I call it that because I can easily see how my purpose was not in line with my day to day actions. Fresh out of University with a Sociology degree and a staggering amount student debt I was checking into a 9-5 that left me exhausted and totally unfulfilled.
The big shift for me occurred when I started volunteering on the things I cared about after my day job was over. There are 24 hours in each day, even an extra hour a day on something that wasn’t a financial motivator, but made my heart beat harder became crucial and addictive. When the dollar sign is not involved as your main driver, a lot of clutter is removed & your purpose becomes very clear. I realised very quickly what I actually enjoyed doing and was happy to do it for free.
6 months of volunteering on a project called “Summit on the Summit” focused on the global clean water crisis turned into a full time opportunity and the gate opener to a series of fortunate events that would lead me to create my company Lovesocial: focused on using social media to bring people together on things that matter. Another pro bono project that my company took on this year was focused on the Oscar nominated documentary “Gasland” focused on the harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing. Putting together the online infrastructure for the communities affected by fracking and watching our communities grow has been enormously fulfilling.
Volunteering is not a 1 way street that just benefits the organization or non profit, a volunteer that is giving their time on something without the financial incentive will be inspired, connecting more often with like minded individuals and motivated to value their time and resources in a new way. Today’s “giving” world is becoming fairly cluttered, so I understand the sentiment of, “I do not even know where to start.” The best way you can give is to give consistently to a dedicated cause or non profit that you have researched. Focus on something that you think matters to you, then stick with it with an organization that has good credit. Bandwagon jumping from cause to cause is counter affective to making a difference. Money when focused on an initiative that you know is making every dollar count is great. But giving your time, and skill set can propel an organization into a new direction. The more specialized your skill set and consistent your commitment the better.
Across the US highly skilled professionals volunteer at the lowest rates (less than 16%), where the National Volunteer Rate is around 26%. Furthermore, we leave an estimated $50 billion on the table every year that professionals who want to give pro bono aren’t given the opportunity to do. This stat is from Catchafire, an amazing initiative to connect skilled professionals and organizations that are really on their way to put their money where their mouths are.
I guess when I hear the term giving is living, I no longer see it as a cliche, I didn’t start living my “new life” until I started giving, asking nothing in return. Volunteering will change the way you see your professional career, your personal life and your long term goals, I promise you that.
I’m part of Catchafire’s Powerful Woman campaign in support of National Volunteer Week. To give your time and skills to a cause you love go to www.catchafire.org